Joe’s Reading Log

January 26, 2006

How To Squash Dissent in Three Easy Steps

Filed under: Government, National Politics — Joe Martin @ 8:39 pm
  1. Convince people that political campaigns are hopeless corrupt
  2. Pass a “Campaign Finance Reform Act”
  3. Use the new law to stomp on anyone who threatens you

It’s not just provacative, it’s what really happened. Read the true story behind the McCain-Feingold Bipartisian Campaign Finance Reform Act.

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Controlling Our Government

Filed under: Wisconsin Politics — Joe Martin @ 8:37 pm

State Senator Glenn Grothman is scrapping plans for a TABOR amendment and talking about revenue controls instead. I’d be happier if we had both TABOR and revenue controls.

January 24, 2006

Warp Drive: Closer Than You Think

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joe Martin @ 5:46 pm

An obscure German scientists publishes some intriguing formulas in the 1950’s, then proceeds to shun the limelight. He writes three books, but only publishes them in German. Most physicists never hear of his work. Another scientist expands on the theories in the 1980’s, but they languish in obscurity for another 20 years. It sounds like science fiction, but this is science history. The result could be a real hyperdrive and real anti-gravity — if today’s scientists can only manage to understand these arcane formulas.

The general consensus seems to be that Dröscher and Häuser’s theory
is incomplete at best, and certainly extremely difficult to follow. And
it has not passed any normal form of peer review, a fact that surprised
the AIAA prize reviewers when they made their decision. “It seemed to
be quite developed and ready for such publication,” Mikellides told New Scientist.

At
the moment, the main reason for taking the proposal seriously must be
Heim theory’s uncannily successful prediction of particle masses.
Maybe, just maybe, Heim theory really does have something to contribute
to modern physics. “As far as I understand it, Heim theory is
ingenious,” says Hans Theodor Auerbach, a theoretical physicist at the
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich who worked with Heim.
“I think that physics will take this direction in the future.”

It
may be a long while before we find out if he’s right. In its present
design, Dröscher and Häuser’s experiment requires a magnetic coil
several metres in diameter capable of sustaining an enormous current
density. Most engineers say that this is not feasible with existing
materials and technology, but Roger Lenard, a space propulsion
researcher at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico thinks it
might just be possible. Sandia runs an X-ray generator known as the Z
machine which “could probably generate the necessary field intensities
and gradients”.

Importing Prosperity

Filed under: Immigration, Prosperity — Joe Martin @ 2:42 pm

It turns out that illegal immigration is good for North Carolina. Radley Balko links to a report showing that North Carolina’s economy grew by $9.2 billion dollars as a result of Hispanics. The cost to the state as a result of immigration: only $61 million. I’d say we should be encouraging immigration, not discouraging it.

Power Corrupts: the Police

Filed under: Civil Liberties — Joe Martin @ 2:39 pm

While America has many brave officers who routinely put their lives on the line, it would be foolhardy to assume that the police are never wrong and are always worthy of deference. Radley Balko at “The Agitator” has been chronicling police abuses for a while now. This morning, he had yet another story to relate:

Here’s a particularly egregious example of puppy-cide from Marcicopa County, Arizona, home of conservative darling and self-proclaimed “toughest sheriff in America,” Joe Arpaio. After conducting a ridiculously bumbling and overly militaristic raid that netted a total of one arrest for outstanding traffic violations, a raid which subsequently set a friggin’ house on fire, and in which the sheriff’s armored personnel carrier (yes, he has one) lost its brakes and rolled down the street, smashing a car — the SWAT team wasn’t quite done

[I]n the ultimate display of cruelty, a SWAT team member drove a dog trying to flee the home back into the inferno, where it met an agonizing death.

Deputies then reportedly laughed as the dog’s owners came unglued as it perished in the blaze.

Read the whole thing. It’s pretty scary. And it’s a good reminder of why the police shouldn’t be trusted with too much fire power, authority, or immunity.

Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

Filed under: Economics, Government, National Politics — Joe Martin @ 2:28 pm

Patrick provides a grim outlook on the future in Triumph of the Redistributionist Left.

Discretionary spending is dwarfed by mandatory spending – spending that cannot be changed without changing the laws. Shifting demographics combined with an inability to change those laws virtually ensures that, through programs such as Social Security and Medicare, America’s workers will be forced to redistribute a larger and larger portion of their income to other Americans in the coming decades.

Certain trends have been favoring the left for the past several decades. In the early 1960s, transfer payments (entitlements and welfare) constituted less than a third of the federal government’s budget. Now they constitute almost 60 percent of the budget, or about $1.4 trillion per year. Measured according to this, the US government’s main function now is redistribution: taking money from one segment of the population and giving it to another segment. In a few decades, transfer payments are expected to make up more than 75 percent of federal government spending.

Currently the federal government consumes about 20 percent of the GDP, which is another way of saying that about 20 percent of Americans’ income, on average, is paid in taxes to the federal government. According to the Government Accountability Office, that is on course to rise to 30 percent by 2040.

By 2040, 30 percent of the national income will be confiscated by the Federal government. 70 percent of that massive amount will then be given to whomever the government feels is most needy — or has the most votes. It’s not a pretty future for my future children.

January 23, 2006

Spying or Media Oversight?

Filed under: National Politics — Joe Martin @ 5:16 pm

Austin Bay (one of the best mil-bloggers there is) provides some perspective on the New York Times’ story revealing the NSA wiretap program. It’s tempting to believe that the program is a danger to civil liberties and that the Times is performing a public service by revealing the existence of the program. However, historical perspective can often provide a second angle to the story. So it is with Austin Bay’s recent post. He recounts an experience he had while attending Columbia’s School of Journalism in 1980:

But back to the wartime scenario. Dan Junior jumped it. He was
publishing tomorrow. The people needed the truth. The three naysayers?
We were lackeys, pro-government clowns, militarists. But we naysayers
got our chance. The interesting reporter from Connecticutt (he happened
to be black) said he wouldn’t run the story because he didn’t know the
story’s full implications. (Yes indeed– not only was he ethical and
judicious, he was highly intuitive.)

Mr Isaacs had been
watching my eyes and I think he knew that his “hypotethical? had
historical roots. “Mr. Bay, why would you not run it??

My
response: “Because I’m not going to spy for Nazi Germany and Imperial
Japan. Your story is the atomic bomb project, and running the story
blows it.?

Read the whole thing, it’s worth it.

The Downfall of Gender Neutral Education

Filed under: Education — Joe Martin @ 5:03 pm

To any parent with children, it would seem obvious that boys and girls have different learning styles and personalities. The educational establishment is apparently just discovering this insight. Dr. Helen comments on a Newsweek article that examines the ways that boys are failing in schools. She highlights a paragraph from the article that I’d like to highlight as well:

For Nikolas Arnold, 15, a sophomore at a public high school in Santa Monica, Calif., college is a distant dream. Nikolas is smart: he’s got an encyclopedic knowledge of weaponry and war. When he was in first grade, his principal told his mother he was too immature and needed ADHD drugs. His mother balked. “Too immature?” says Diane Arnold, a widow. “He was six and a half!” He’s always been an advanced reader, but his grades are erratic. Last semester, when his English teacher assigned two girls’ favorites—”Memoirs of a Geisha” and “The Secret Life of Bees” Nikolas got a D. But lately, he has a math teacher he likes and is getting excited about numbers. He’s reserved in class sometimes. But now that he’s more engaged, his grades are improving slightly and his mother, who’s pushing college, is hopeful he will begin to hit his stride. Girls get A’s and B’s on their report cards, she tells him, but that doesn’t mean boys can’t do it, too.

Diseased Cat Lovers

Filed under: Humor — Joe Martin @ 12:44 am

It’s true, cat lovers aren’t in their right minds. Professor Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution has the scoop:

Amazingly, Toxoplasma gondii infects the brains of rats making them change their behavior in a subtle way that increases the genetic fitness of the parasite. Toxoplasma makes the infected rats less scared of cats and so more likely to be eaten!

Now here is the kicker. Toxoplasma gondii also infects a lot of humans.

Know Your Rights

Filed under: Civil Liberties — Joe Martin @ 12:39 am

I stumbled across an older article from Reason magazine: Drunken Assertion. In it, Brian Doherty talks about “Ramsell’s Roadside Rights Kit”:

It’s shaped like a passport and opens up to a pocket that holds your driver’s license, insurance, and car registration. On the back is a card emblazoned with an assertion of your rights when stopped by the cops. The kit also contains a button to activate a sound chip; press it, and it tells the officer that you will only exit the vehicle for the officer’s safety or if under arrest.

Although I found many more articles talking about the kit, I wasn’t able to find any site that was actually selling it. That’s a pity, because it sure sounds like something useful to have.

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